In the Sheds: Rupertswood’s geese are worth a gander

By Paul Daffey
THE Rupertswood footy club has made a big impression since joining the Victorian Amateur Football Association a decade ago, and not just because of its progression through the grades.

The club’s oval is on the grounds of Salesian College, Rupertswood, near Sunbury. About 60 geese live on the school grounds’ lake. On Saturdays when the geese covet the footy oval, according to Rupertswood president Rob Morrice, they leave the lake and cross the nearby road, stopping traffic in doing so. Then they waddle through a small chute that serves as a players’ race, make their way across a car park and charge through an entrance next to the opposition coaches’ bench. “The thing is they run on to the ground like a football team,” said Morrice, “in single file. Then they cluster up.”

LAST season Rupertswood interchange steward Peter Phillips tried to shoo the geese from the ground, only to have them turn on him (see for The Geese’s Revenge). During an under-19s match early this season, a wag in the crowd said, “Get off the ground, you goose”, when a field umpire tried to move the birds on. Two weekends ago, the reserves match against North Old Boys-St Pat’s had to be stopped while players, officials and spectators joined in geese-clearing duties. “The opposition accuse us of using them to plug holes,” said Morrice, who’s resisted calls to change the club’s nickname to the Geese or at least the Ducks. On Saturday the geese stayed by the lake as Rupertswood’s senior team maintained its record as the only undefeated team in the Amateurs with a 98-point win against D1-section rival Aquinas.

THE geese incident during the reserves match a fortnight ago compounded an interesting week for the NOB’s-St Pat’s seconds. The previous week, at home against Whitefriars, they took the field with club legend Michael Barker at full-forward and his brother John, the former Hawthorn player and current Hawks assistant coach, at centre half-forward. Michael is due to play his 200th game in the seniors but was returning from injury through the reserves. John is eager to play alongside his brother in the milestone game if it suits his Hawthorn commitments. With the Barker brothers up forward, it was little wonder the NOB’s-St Pat’s reserves won. (Michael kicked four but John was goalless.) On Saturday, the NOBs-St Pat’s reserves and seniors both strengthened their finals claims with strong wins over Prahran.

THE most significant result in D1-section on Saturday was fourth-placed Fitzroy’s victory at the home of second-placed Werribee. Five of the six players named in the Roys’ best were teenagers; the only player of mature years was Conor Dullard, who’s the son of former Melbourne defender Tony. After driving back from Werribee, Fitzroy players and officials dropped in to their rooms below the old grandstand at the Brunswick Street oval to see the latest addition to the club’s Royboys palette. In 1967, after Fitzroy had shifted its home matches from Brunswick Street to Princes Park, Roys president Ern Joseph became unhappy with the fact that his players had to change in front of Carlton memorabilia and organised for three large blinds to be made. The first blind featured the word “The”. The second blind featured “Lions” and the third said “Home”. The blinds were pulled down over the Carlton honour boards before every Lions game. After Fitzroy had moved on to the Junction Oval for the 1970 season, the blinds remained at Princes Park until a Carlton official badgered Fitzroy great Kevin Murray to take them away. The blinds sat in storage until Murray recently donated them to the amateur branch of the Fitzroy Football Club family. Fitzroy president Craig Little said the blinds went up late last week. “They’re very old-school; they just look ‘late ’60s’.” After viewing the blinds on Saturday evening, the Lions contingent adjourned over the road to traditional Fitzroy watering hole the Lord Newry Hotel for hearty celebrations.

TALK about the stars aligning … and then falling from the sky. Around the time that Jim Bartel was lining up for goal after the siren at the MCG on Saturday, Old Geelong wingman Lachlan Teague was doing the same at Como Park, South Yarra, about three kilometres away. Teague, a 25-year-old engineer, marked about 20 metres out on a slight angle in the dying seconds of the OGs’ game against heavily favoured C-section rival Beaumaris. The siren rang as he walked in to shoot. Rather than begin his approach again, Teague went through with his kick and pushed it across goal for a behind. Old Geelong wears the blue and white hoops but they didn’t share the Cats’ luck in this instance. Whereas Bartel’s behind gave the Cats victory over Hawthorn by a point, Teague’s behind left his team five points in arrears. The result left Beaumaris in second place and Old Geelong eighth. Teague and his teammates look forward to a change of luck against fellow relegation prospect Bulleen-Templestowe this week.

WHILE the OGs and Beaumaris match could be likened to the Geelong and Hawthorn clash, the match between D3-section rivals Powerhouse and University High School Old Boys-Victoria University bears comparison with the playgrounds shambles between Freo and West Coast at Subiaco. The D3 match was played at Powerhouse’s Ross Gregory Oval at Albert Park. The nearby lake contributes to tricky winds but nothing to explain a half-time score of 0.7 (7) to 0.2 (2), with Powerhouse leading. Uni High (which wears the magnificently anti-fashion combination of olive-green with a tan yoke) kicked its first goal early in the third quarter and another five thereafter. Powerhouse centre half-forward Richie Benson kicked his team’s first goal with five minutes to go, having taken a big mark in the goalsquare. The final score was 6.7 (43) to 1.9 (15). The most alarming aspect for Powerhouse was that the match was played before former players who were there to celebrate the club’s first premiership, in C-section in 1959. Two attendees were in the club’s inaugural team in 1947. The Powerhouse social rooms offer a view across Albert Park towards the city lights. The view behind takes in St Kilda. Powerhouse players could be forgiven for not taking a good, hard look at themselves given the glorious distractions in front of them.

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